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Let Memento Mori Be Your Guide

Memento Mori… a phrase the conveys a simple concept-remember, you must die. Sounds depression, right? But wait, let’s think about this for a moment. Is it true? Absolutely. So why not use that to motivate yourself to do the things you’ve been putting off? In August, I realized that the year had just about passed me by. What had I done for the first eight months of the year? When I reviewed the year, I concluded that the better question was, “What have I NOT done?” In reality, so much. 365 days in the year, 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a day. We all get that. What we do with it is entirely up to us.

To be clear, I’ve done some great things this year. For example, sitting on the couch with my husband every morning, slowly sipping coffee and talking without a care in the world. Our garden has been fantastic, and over the past month, we’ve begun to can and freeze fruits and vegetables. My parents, nephews, sisters, and I are all in an endless group text message, so I interact with them daily. I’ve stopped absorbing depressing, anxiety-producing news reports and social media, restricting my time in Facebook to writer groups and my author page. I’ve gotten back into a workout routine, lost six pounds, and I feel fantastic. I’ve taken on the attitude that if the world ends tomorrow, that’s fine. I’ll be writing or editing a draft of my next book, picking tomatoes in the garden, or sitting on the couch with my beloved husband, sipping coffee. Basically, whatever happens, I’ll be doing something I wanted to get done. 

In my mind, the year started on August 24, 2020, because that was the day that I reminded myself, “memento mori.” The holiday novel I’m writing on was inspired by this idea that we will all die. My favorite podcaster utters this phrase from time to time. In the beginning, I was very uncomfortable with her throwing the truth out there like that. Then I realized that one of the reasons I admire this woman is because she’s taken this phrase to heart. Doing today, or you might not get the chance.

A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas was sparked by this idea that there is only so much time in life. No one has an endless clock, but there are times when we forget how precious each moment is. Sylvia Wilcox is a workaholic, partially because she is a young widow, but also because there are times when she isn’t sure what else there is to do. In A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas, she takes a moment, a breath, and examines what can happen in a moment of much-needed downtime.

The first eight months of the year were not a loss. I learned a great deal about what I wanted in life and what I needed to leave behind.  Ten years ago,  I climbed aboard an Amtrak with a bunch of books, a few apples, trail mix, and the last sixty buck I had to my name, because I’d figured out that life was too short to stay in stagnation. It was better then, and now, to walk into the unknown. 2020 has made me realize that it was time to get back in the game. Throw caution to the wind and move forward, even if the road is scary and I don’t know where I’m going. I’m confident that the road will eventually meet my feet. 2020, with all its troubles, has ironically boosted my mood back up into the stratosphere. I’m excessively happy again. As an old friend of mine use to say, “She’s all sunshine and lollipops!”

As I continue to contemplate memento mori, and the beauty and mystery surrounding mortality, my level of gratitude increases. Death can be feared,  or  simply recognized as a part of the life cycle. Let it encourage action-not fear or stagnation. I’ve come to think of it as a motivation to live my dreams and keep moving forward without looking back.  This idea that we will all die reminds us that time is of the essence. Do it now, or possibly never accomplish your goals. The good news is that you have time, as do I, to move forward and complete the task at hand. Make yourself proud!

Cheers!

Braylee

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Fracture Is Out And Other Good News

Hello Readers, Fracture is available at various ebook retailers, and it will be popping up at more stores soon! Google Play was not admitting new authors for a while, but now that things have opened back up, all three books will be adding in the next few weeks. Also, hardcovers should be available before the end of the year. Physical books, both paperback and hardback books, are hard to come by these days, but the hope is that things will improve soon. The prologue for A Sylvia Wilcox Christmas will be shared soon! I’ve been having so much fun Displacement is still free. Pick it up! Sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to save 50% on Fracture. I recently opened a Payhip store, so I can now offer newsletter subscribers special discounts. You also will receive other perks, including an opportunity to sign up for my Advance Reader Team, sneak peeks of new books, and tons of free book offers from my fellow author friends. Don’t miss out! Sign up below!

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A Quiet Place in the World

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is doing well. This has been a great week for me and I wanted to share some of the going-ons in my world, and give an update Fracture, and a surprise announcement of another book that will be out in November. Yay! Productivity has returned! You may be wondering why my engine has suddenly been revved up and there are a few simply explanations to why I’ve been more productive in the past two weeks, than I’ve been the rest of the year. Exercise and living in the present moment.

2020 has been a year for re-evaluating everything from my career to my weight. As I hunkered down in my house earlier in the year, I will admit that I was frustrated and angry, but over time, I realized that there was so much opportunity in those moments. What was working? What wasn’t? How could things be different? Once I stopped following social media eliminated what I’ve heard termed, “doom scrolling” I just focused on my life. What could I do to become a better person? A few of the ideas I came up with were getting back into shape, writing several books a year, and getting to know the town where I live. When I first moved to Utah, I loved living in Salt Lake City. It was so clean and pleasant, and I had no choice but to learn the city, because I didn’t have a car. As the years passed, I moved into a teaching career and eventually relocated to a suburb in northern Utah. That was back in 2016 and I still don’t care for the area of the state I live in. Over the past few months, I’ve taken some time to analyze why this is the case.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Salt Lake City was because I didn’t have a car. I walked or used public transit to get everywhere, and I became a part of the city. At one point, I lived in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, which was 2.7 miles from my job. On nights when the bus was taking forever or stopped running, I’d walk home. I don’t recommend walking alone at night. Still, it was something I did in part because I felt like Salt Lake City couldn’t possibly have anything that Detroit had not thrown at me. While this is probably true, I realize now that I should have just asked for a ride from the scores of concerned coworkers who often volunteered to take me home. But, I was in a phase of my life where throwing caution to the wind was a daily occurrence. Right or wrong, those long walks home helped me become a Utahn.

Moving to northern Utah was a bit of a shock to my system. First of all, I’d never been to the area until I met my husband. Most of the people I knew spoke of all points near Ogden as “out there.” Well, they weren’t wrong. It takes close to an hour for me to get back to Salt Lake City, and if I-15 is shut down, I have to take a roundabout, long route that weaves through mountains and adds about half an hour onto the drive. Needless to say, I don’t drive down there often, and during 2020, I have only headed to SLC a handful of times. No matter how much I love Salt Lake, I don’t live there anymore. It’s time to move on and embrace the present.

Salt Lake City is a unique hub for transplants and misfits. There isn’t another place in the state that is as welcoming to newcomers. With that said, after moving to northern Utah, I fell into a habit of rarely leaving my house. Could that help explain why I don’t feel connected with the place where I currently live? I spend time in my garden, head out to the grocery store from time to time, and I do have one friend that lives in the neighborhood, but for the most part, I drive to Salt Lake City for all significant socialization outside of my hubby. This, of course, is not healthy, and it led to a twenty-four-pound weight gain. Yes, I’ve eaten all the loneliness, stress, and unfriendly encounters I’ve experienced over the last few years. Well, you know what? I’m done with it. I live where I live, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t love it. So this week, I’ve been embracing everything that exists right now.

Each day this week, my husband and I have taken walks on the Ogden River Parkway. It’s a cozy little blacktop trail that travels along the river’s edge throughout communities in the area. We park and walk to the Ogden Botanical Gardens where we browse through the rose garden and stroll along the short trails. There’s one spot, tucked away in the shade where we like to sit and chat while resting up for the walk back. It’s just a pleasant, quiet place in the world where we can relax and take in the beauty of the area. It’s also a way to feel connected to where we live. That little bench is “our seat.” We now have a set path and a general time that we take to the parkway for “our walk”. All of s sudden, this place feels more like home than it ever has before.

 

Beautiful rose and a busy bee.
Our little bench in a shady area of the botanical gardens.
The Ogden River creates a soothing soundtrack for the walk.
Our view from the bench in the woods.
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How Utah Became “Home”

Ten years ago today I was headed back to Michigan from Utah. I’d just spent four days in Salt Lake City, a place that had never been on my must-see list, and I was SO sad to be leaving. One of my good friends had moved to Utah years before, and I’d taken a trip to visit him, but I never thought I’d fall in love with the place. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from the trip. Just some laughs and good times with an old friend. We did indeed have a blast, but the place turned out to be enchanting and from the moment I touched down in Michigan, I was planning a way to get back to Salt Lake City.

Utah was never on my radar, but I was definitely looking for a place to move. Michigan had been in decline for decades. By 2009 I’d been done with graduate school for four years, and was working three part-time jobs. A full-time job with a decent salary had proved to be elusive, I was thirty-four and I’d never had a meaningful romantic relationship, so I was pretty sure I’d never marry, and my novel, Lives Lived wasn’t being picked up by literary agents. Moving to a new town for a fresh start was constantly on my mind and I was open, but Utah was not one of the destinations I had in mind.  As I considered cities I might want to live in, I decided to plan one fun trip to see an old friend in Utah.

From the time I boarded the connecting flight in Denver, to the moment when I stepped off the plane in Salt Lake City, I was showered with kindness. A man stowed my bag in the overhead compartment and removed it when we landed, carrying it off the plane. As I stepped into the airport, people smiled and spoke to me, and as I stepped outside, I was in awe of the mountains that jutted into the sky in every direction. One the flight I’d been mesmerized by the red rock and snow capped peaks. I thought Utah was nothing more than the Great Salt Lake. Why hadn’t anyone told me that it was a hidden gem?

Over the next four days my friend made sure that we packed in as many activities as we could. I was enchanted with the landscape, surprised at the friendliness of the people, and I loved fry sauce. After climbing Ensign Peak I remember thinking, maybe this IS the place…At the end of my trip, I found myself longing to stay. I remember being a bit sad when I returned home. How could I miss a place I barely knew?

In September of 2010, I bought a one-way train ticket, packed a bag, withdrew the last sixty dollars I had in my bank account, and I headed to Salt Lake City. I wasn’t sure if I was going to head to another spot afterwards, or if I would head back to Michigan at some point. By October, I decided that I was going to start over in Utah. It made no sense and plenty of people thought I’d lost my mind for making such a major decision on a whim, but what did I have to lose? As the ten year anniversary roles around, deciding to move to Utah is the best decision I’ve ever made.

Home…Or Is It?

Utah is very nice but even after ten years, it doesn’t feel like home. This is confusing because after a decade, where else would home be for me? When I travel back to Michigan I enjoy my time there, but I’m always ready to get back to Utah after a week or so. This is a strange position to be in and I wonder if the concept of home is even more arbitrary than I thought it was. I wrote the bulk of Who She Was back in 2009, when I was living in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At the time, I thought, “I love Michigan and it’s my home. I’ll set my story right here at home.” Now that I don’t live in Michigan, and I’ve experienced a different type of “home,” I want to write about the desert and this foreign culture I’ve been immersed in for the past decade.

In Fracture, Sylvia Wilcox finds herself in Utah, a place that is intriguing, friendly, and mysterious. A clean wholesome mecca for families, but it’s also a haven for secretive religious zealots. While those things are true, it is possible to simply get caught up in the beauty of the place. I’m not a professional photographer, but Utah’s amazing terrain doesn’t need a professional to spruce things up. Here are a few lovely places to visit in Utah.

Places to Visit in Utah

Antelope Island is one of my favorite places to visit! It is located near Syracuse, Utah and birds from around North America nest on the island. The landscape is much different from the areas surrounding the island, because of the high salinity of the lake. While this is a beautiful place, be prepared for what locals call “no-see-ums“-biting flies, and the brining scents that rise up from the lake. It is also important to make sure that steer clear of the wildlife on the island. Do not approach bison or antelope, or any other wildlife you come across.

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Bryce Canyon National Park is a must see for anyone visiting Utah. In fact, you need to find a way to visit the “Mighty Five” before you leave the state. I never get tired of staring at the red rock and exploring the wilderness. This is a photo from a solo trip I took a few years ago.

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I live minutes from Ogden Canyon which is full of breathtaking trails, and I mean that both figuratively and literally. I often refer to myself as a flatlander because I grew up in Michigan-at sea level. it doesn’t take much for me to start huffing and puffing on a trail, but it’s so worth it. The Wheeler Canyon trail is especially wonderful in autumn.

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Driving the Alpine Loop in another great way to see spectacular autumn colors. A pass to the area will cost you six dollars (as of 2020), but it’s good for three days, so you can spread out the awe over a couple of days.

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Alpine Loop in Utah County

Ensign Peak is an easy, short hike close to downtown Salt Lake City. Head up around sunset and you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the valley. This is reported to be the place that Brigham Young declared “This is the place” during the Mormon trek west. No matter what your views are, learning about the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is synonymous with Utah history. You can’t have one without the other, so soak up all the knowledge. I guarantee you’ll be fascinated!

 

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Utah is a religious place, but there’s more to state. If you love the outdoors, kind people, safe environments, and a fantastic economy-this IS the place! Okay, that’s just a bit about how Utah charmed me and stole me away from Michigan.

Resources

Alpine Loop

https://utah.com/scenic-drive/alpine-loop

Antelope Island

https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/

Bryce Canyon National Park

https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

Ensign Peak

https://utah.com/hiking/ensign-peak

Salt Lake City

https://www.visitsaltlake.com/

Visit Utah

https://www.visitutah.com/

 

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Begin Again…2020

Dear Readers,

Please forgive my absence. 2020 has been quite a year so far and as I reflected on my own experiences, distraction set in. With that said, I know that writing, adding my voice, even in a fictional setting, matters. As an African-American woman living in Utah, in the United States of America, I have information to add to discussion on race and inequality in the world. Yes, the lives of African-Americans matter. That’s not a way to devalue other lives, it’s just a reminder that the lives of minorities have not always mattered, and even now certain lives don’t receive the care and consideration they deserve.

With that said, many voices are ignored. For example, I listen to a lot of podcasts about missing persons. There are a few podcasters out there that make sure they cover the broad spectrum of missing persons, but there is a need for more coverage of missing persons of color. For example, three weeks ago I heard about Terrance Woods Jr for the first time. He went missing in Orogrande, Idaho October 5, 2018. He is from Maryland and doesn’t have ties in this part of the country. I live in Utah and whenever there is an Amber Alert or missing person case in Idaho, I hear about it. This time, however, I never saw an article on about Terrance Woods Jr. He is reported to have run off into the woods. The sheriff in the area thinks he got a ride out of the area. As a black man, he would stand out in Idaho, if he caught a ride to another location, someone would have noticed him. But if no one knows he’s missing, no one is going to report seeing him. So, in an effort to make sure that we remember as many missing persons as possible, I want to do

Here are two things to look for in July 2020:

Forgotten Lives-a podcast covering missing persons of color. I started this project in 2018 but stopped because I felt like I wasn’t a good podcaster. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not get better if I don’t keep doing it, so the podcast will return next month. Episodes will resume in July 2020.

Fracture: Book 3 In The Sylvia Wilcox Series

This time around, Sylvia and Martin take on the case of a woman who disappears on during a routine trip to the grocery store. I will post the prologue in the next few days but for now-just in case you have forgotten-here’s the cover again. Stay tuned!

3D Ebook - Fracture

 

 

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Five Things You Need to Know About Utah

Sylvia Wilcox is hitting the road in Fracture! A missing persons case leads Sylvia to the Utah, a state that has recently become a destination for those looking for a fresh start, the best snow on earth, or a safe, comfortable neighborhood full of friendly faces.

I moved to Utah in 2010 because the economy was strong, and Michigan’s economy had been in dire straits for years. The best part of my story about relocating across country is that I never planned to stay. I mean, think about it. Utah. Who lives there? It seemed like a strange  Well, it turns out that my decision to remain in Utah might not have been so strange. As I look around the state, I see people pouring into the Salt Lake Valley from around the country. Before you move to the Beehive State, here are five things you should know.

Today, I’m going to go through five things people should know before they move to Utah.

5. It’s Not As Religious As It Used To Be, But It’s still Pretty Religious

In the 1840s, Mormon pioneers made the trek across the the country to Utah. While several Native American tribes, fur trappers, and the occasional Catholic priest were already traversing the area, the Mormons moved in and made the place a state. It took over fifty years for statehood to be established due to the faith’s practice of polygamy. But, there have always been people in Utah that are other religions, or don’t have a faith at all. With that said, in 2020, Utah is the “most religiously homogenous state” in the country. Recent statistics show that the population of active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is declining, especially in the state’s largest county. Even so, 60.68% of the state is on the rolls at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(Salt Lake Tribune). But this number is deceptive. Non-practicing members of the LDS church are counted as members, even if they haven’t attended church in decades. In order to not be counted, members have to ask to have their names removed from church records. This is a bit cumbersome and can cause trouble with family members and friends, so many inactive and non-believing members leave their names on the roll. In reality, I’d say the number of active members falls below 50%, but that’s just a guess.

Even with the decline of active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah is still largely Mormon. Some areas are more heavily populated with Mormons, and while those will still be decent areas to live,  communities that are overwhelming Mormon will be difficult places to live for non-Mormons. People will probably speak to you and occasionally make small talk, but it will be very hard to make lasting connections unless you join the LDS church.

So, where is the best place to move in the state? Salt Lake County is going to be the best place for transplant, non-LDS people that move to Utah. Utah County is arguably going to be worst place for a non-LDS transplant, but there are also a few rural counties that are isolated, have poor job prospects and high suicide rates. In northern and central Utah you will find what some call Jack Mormons, people who have some belief in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but do not adhere to the Word of Wisdom-which forbids alcohol, coffee, and for some, tea. You will also find transplants that have moved to Utah for the mountains and trails, and many of them are not part of the dominant faith, so no matter where you move, as long as it isn’t a ranch in the middle of nowhere, or on the edge of the desert, you should be able to make friends.

4. People Are Friendly, But It’s Hard To Make Friends

Utah is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been, but building lasting friendships is hard. The one exception to this rule is if you have a ready-made community waiting for you. For example, if you’re into Crossfit, you love to hike, have a religion, or already know people, you’ll be fine. But if you’re moving in for a job opportunity, and you don’t know anyone, be prepared for a little isolation.

The good news is that most of the people you encounter are going to be nice and happy to make your acquaintance. Smiles and friendly nods will greet you on the streets of Salt Lake City, and a few people will make small talk, but that might be all it is. The best way to make friends is to have a thing. Any thing that you like to do. Strike up conversations over coffee, or during walks through Liberty Park, and make as many connections as you can because there is a good chance that most of them aren’t going to turn into close friendships.

3. Utah’s Government Is A Bit Controlling…But Only On Specific Issues

When I moved to Utah I thought the government would be a small dot in the rearview mirror of my car. Uber republican state means less government, right? Well, that’s true for some issues. For example, if you want to homeschool your child, Utah takes a very hands-off approach that allows parents to have complete autonomy when it comes to educating their children. Also, guns are readily available for anyone to buy and open carry is legal for anyone 18 and up, but if you want a bottle of wine…Well, you can only get that from a state run liquor store. Pornography websites might have a warning label on them by the time you get here, but that hasn’t become an official law just yet. Polygamy will probably be an infraction, something akin to a traffic ticket, after the currently legislative session, but that is where the freedom ends. Provo, where Brigham Young University is located, recently voted to allow brewpubs in the city. This is the first time Provo, Utah has allowed beer to be brewed in its downtown since Prohibition, but there is currently a referendum underway to overturn this law. As a new resident of Utah, you can expect what most would call social issues to be heavily legislated.

2. The Economy-Jobs EVERYWHERE!

Jobs are plentiful in Utah.  If you want to find a job, you’ll probably be able to find one within a week of starting your search. Salaries are historically low in Utah, but you can always find a job. Now it might not be the job you want, and you might need two or three jobs if you want to buy a house, but you’ll be able to find employment.

Some of the major employers might have decent salaries are eBay, Amazon, and Adobe. There is a section of the state called Silicon Slopes, and that is where you will find tech companies that pay well and have good benefits. Hill Air Force Base is another great place to work in Utah because the salaries are not based on the state’s low pay rates. Instead, you will enjoy salaries based on the cost of living set by the federal government.

4. Safe and Comfortable Neighborhoods…But It’s Going to Cost 

Utah is a great place to live, but the price of housing in some areas may cause a bit of stress. No, in order to move into an affordable area, you will have to be open to living away from the best place, in terms of building your social life, in the state. Salt Lake City is the best place to live in the Salt Lake Valley, and I absolutely loved being in the city, but over time, the price tag was too much. I live in the hip and happy 9th and 9th neighborhood where I was paying 850 for rent in 2012, and that’s before utilities and a required media package. When the rent was raised to 910, I decided it was time to move. Eventually, I was priced out of the market and moved to West Jordan.  And that was in 2012.

If you’re interested in living in Salt Lake City, you will probably end up paying about 1500 in rent. If you want to buy a house…All I can say is that you better bring a hunk of cash with you. My advice, bite the bullet and move north. Not to Davis County, but Weber County. You could move to one of the small cities in the Ogden-Clearfield area and find a place that costs a bit less. Utah County is also going to be cheaper than Salt Lake County, but remember, Utah County is uber religious, so if you’re not into that, choose another county.

1. Downtown SLC, Historic 25th Street in Ogden, and Everything In-between

Historic 25th Street is a wonderful place to visit if you make your way to Ogden. It’s a great place to swing by after a visit to Antelope Island, but there isn’t much to see in the city, which is more of a town for me. There are plenty of restaurants and little shops to stop by while you’re in town, and classical turn of the century homes you can stroll through.

Downtown SLC is a world class city that contains plenty of things to see and do. Visit Temple Square and take a tour of the tabernacle.  After that, you can spend some time in at City Creek Mall, a massive luxury shopping center full of eateries and top notch stores where you can buy a souvenir for family members back home.

One of my favorite things about liing in

Utah has nice cities but, it is nature that people come to visit. Moab, Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, really you need to visit all the national parks, and as many of the state parks, but there are also just beautiful natural areas in your backyard you must visit.

Stay tune for Fracture, the third book in the Sylvia Wilcox series. You will be able to purchase the book on my website in April and other platforms, such as Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and other book publishing platforms as well.

Resources

A Brief History of Fry Sauce, Utah’s Favorite Condiment

https://www.eater.com/2016/8/6/12054512/fry-sauce-ketchup-mayo-utah-condiment

Explaining Polygamy and It’s History of the Mormon Church

https://theconversation.com/explaining-polygamy-and-its-history-in-the-mormon-church-81384

10 Things To Know About Utah

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-01-04/10-things-to-know-about-utah

Like many U.S. cities, Salt Lake finds it ‘can’t build way out’ of affordable housing shortage

https://www.deseret.com/utah/2019/9/22/20870741/utah-salt-lake-apartment-rent-prices

National Park Service

https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

Discover Moab

https://www.discovermoab.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Fracture: How Fundamentalism Causes Us To Ignore Logic

Hello everyone! Today is January 17, 2020 and I am recording a brief update on Fracture, my current fiction project. It’s cold and snowy here today which makes it the perfect day to sit down and reflect a bit on what I’ve been writing. As mentioned before, I have decided to change the name of the next book in the Sylvia Wilcox series to Fracture and the change of the title has helped spur some new ideas, which is great. Along with those new ideas, I’ve spent some time thinking about some of the underlying themes of the book.

The idea that there is one singular Truth is dangerous. Humanity has had varied experiences throughout existence and every culture has its stories, myths, and histories that shape the way they live. When we come to the conclusion that we have the Truth about something, and feel that we don’t need to hear other opinions or stories of different experiences, we become fundamentalists. And when we become fundamentalists, we lose sight of logic. During the course of writing this novel, I’ve done a some research into the fundamentalism of different groups.  Some of those groups are religious, others are political, and still others start off as social groups. I was searching for more information on groups that isolate from the rest of the world, and have insulated themselves with the idea that leaving the group will bring about social rejection or damnation. Secular groups employ similar tactics as religious groups, but the losses might not be as severe as losing salvation. Instead, distancing one’s self from a secular group may mean the loss of money, power, and social connections. Here’s an example: Anyone can run for political office, but the higher the office, the less chance they have of being elected unless they align themselves with a specific political party. Once elected, the person may feel like they can’t truly govern if they are beholden to the party, but leaving the party usually means their political career is over. But the stakes are higher when a person is tightly weaved into a belief system that requires complete and total dedication, and discourages questions.

Faith And Truth Are NOT The Same

Religion is related to philosophy, and the idea that one religion is more true than another is a foreign concept to me. Not to mention, if you “know” that something is true, you don’t need faith to believe it. More importantly, how do you know something is true? Because someone told you? Because your grandma tells faith promoting stories about your family during the holidays? None of theses things can be proven to be absolute truths.

That brings me to Fracture. I live in Utah and I must admit, this place is incredibly fascinating and foreign to my senses. My parents never pushed religion on me, but we did go to a Methodist Church on Sundays, and I attended parochial school. I never thought the other faiths were less true than mine. In fact, I wanted to learn about other traditions, and I’ve been to a mosque, Jewish temple, Buddhist temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the majority of Protestant churches, and a couple of different branches of Orthodox churches. I never thought one or another was “true” or “false” or anything along those lines. Instead, I thought, it’s wonderful that the diversity of humanity is represented by all these different faith traditions, and the plethora of traditions made sense to me because humans are so diverse. We’re all just trying to understand why we’re here, why we exist, and what we should be doing with ourselves. So, I’ve always been comfortable with faiths that were completely different from my own. I mean, everyone must find their own path, right? Well, in 2010 when I moved to Utah, I encountered people who were absolutely sure that they had the truth. I mean, absolutely sure-truth with a capital T. Now, most of the people I know that are in the Mormon Church do not flaunt this ideology much, but that attitude is weaved into the culture. And for some, those who might have a touch of narcissism, may take the ideology to another level. Most will just be arrogant, but what happens when one of the “chosen one” decides that they are a little more chosen than the rest of the people in their faith? What happens when someone becomes more and more chosen, and they become a self proclaimed prophet? This is where fundamentalism comes into play.

Fracture is about a woman who is searching for truth. She takes a look at her life and starts to wonder if she indeed has the absolute, bonafide truth about everything. At this point I’m sure you are scratching your head and thinking, “How can anyone have the truth about everything?” The answer to that question is at the heart of the third book of Sylvia Wilcox series.

 

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Happy New Year!


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2020 is upon us! I LOVE New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day because they provide transition from one year to the next. This year is also special because it is the beginning of a new decade, and the last decade was phenomenal for me, I am elated to discover what the next ten years has in store for me.

A New Decade (Well, Kind Of…)

Okay, so I know that technically the new decade doesn’t start until 2021, and 2011 is when the last decade began. BUT, that’s not how my brain works. It likes even number and for me, the decade started today, January 1, 2020.

Yesterday, I took some time to reflect on December 31, 2009. I remember it vividly because it was the last New Year’s Eve spent in Michigan. I had a sinus infection the week of Christmas, and I was still feeling sick on New Year’s Eve. In addition to being physically sick, I felt like my life was stagnant. I was living in Ypsilanti, Michigan, tucked away in an apartment my friend owned, and my career prospects were dismal. After completing six years of college, and earning two degrees, I was working a part-time job and picking up other part-time jobs when possible, because the economy in Michigan had slowed to a standstill. Of course, I would have gladly taken a full-time job, but the endless applications I submitted never resulted in a job with sustainable income. In 2009, I’d contemplating moving to a new state, but I was nervous about leaving everything and everyone I knew behind. That night, something shifted in my life.

I got off work around nine that evening and headed home. I declined a friend’s invitation to ring in the New Year at his place, and spent the evening I read the last chapters of my 80,000-word literary fiction novel. My heart was heavy as I ran through the usual questions and self-doubt. Was my book good enough to publish? Would anyone want to read it? I was terrified to find out the answers to those questions.

At midnight that evening, I had a cup of tea and contemplated my life. What was I doing? Where was my life going? While those questions swirled around in my head, I realized that I didn’t have any answers. Sad and confused I muttered to myself, “Do something big in 2010.”

I needed to shake things up and that’s exactly what I did. In September of 2010, I bought a one-way train ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah. My goal was to head to the mountains and spend time writing and querying agents, to see if I could get my book picked up by a publishing company. I didn’t set a time limit or the rest of the itinerary because I had no idea what I should do next. It helped that I had a good friend that lived in Salt Lake City. He said I was more than welcome to crash with him if I wanted to come and check the place out. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that there were opportunities in Utah that simply weren’t present in Michigan. So, I decided to rebuild my life from scratch in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Looking back on the past ten years, the person I was on New Year’s Day 2010, couldn’t have ever imagined the person that woke up this morning, New Year’s Day, 2020. During the last decade, I’ve taken two solo cross-country road trips, met the man of my dreams and got married, moved to a new state, wrote and published three books (two in 2019), got back in touch with spirituality and faith, and moved deeper into the Mormon Mecca that is Utah. Those are just some of the highlights. There were many more, as well as low times that caused me to question where I was going in life, but all in all, it was a fantastic decade.
My goal is to do something big this year, just as it was in 2010. What is that thing? I don’t rightfully know at this moment, but I’m open to big, life shifting changes.

So, that’s how I’m starting 2020. The Success Principles audiobook by Jack Canfield is playing in the background as I write this, and I am ready for a positive and prosperous year. How are you feeling on this first day of 2020? What goals have you set for the year? Drop me a line and let me know what you have in store for 2020!

The Writing Life

The title of the next book in the Sylvia Wilcox series had been changed from Remnant to Fracture. Why? Well, it turns out that there is a splinter group of the LDS church that is called the “Remnant”. Since Fracture does have a Mormon splinter group, I don’t want anyone to think I am referring to the actual group that exists. Fracture is fiction and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise, so I’m changing the name. Also, there are a few other books with that title Remnant, so I think it is best to just change the title of the book.

Stay tuned for the prologue of Fracture! A sneak peek of the novel will be available later this month. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please do so. Newsletter subscribers get goodies and information before anyone else.

Hope January 1, 2020 was a wonderful day for you!

Cheers!

Braylee Parkinson